Universität Wien

280114 UE MA-ERD-17.30 Environmental Paleontology (PI) (2020S)

Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 15 participants
Language: English



every Thursdays 14:00 to 17:00 (in webinar format)
Preliminary meeting on Thursday, 5.03, 14:00-14:30
Room 2A225, Wilhelm-Klaus-Übungssaal, UZAII, Geozentrum, Althanstraße 14


Aims, contents and method of the course

This course aims at introducing students to the emerging discipline of conservation paleobiology – the use of the historical data and fossil record to address questions on biological conservation. Humans have altered ecosystems for millennia, but in contrast, even the most extensive systematic monitoring rarely encompasses more than the past few decades. Consequently, meaningful benchmarks are hard to define quantitatively and we face challenges to separate anthropogenic impacts from the natural dynamics of ecosystems. Paleoecological data can provide high-resolution records of ecosystem change and variation on timescales well beyond the limits of ecological monitoring, enabling the reconstruction of ecological baselines and the long-term trajectories of ecosystem states.

This course will address the fundamental concepts of conservation paleobiology and its applications to habitat restoration, invasion biology and biodiversity management. It includes practicals to familiarize students with the type of materials and samples and to learn the foundations of data analysis in the statistical programming language R. Eventually, the student will have acquired knowledge on the importance of the time perspective in conservation biology and the necessary skills to put to work the historical and fossil record for conservation science.

Part of the course will relay on e-learning activities including live streaming of the lectures. Course materials will be available online on Moodle.

Assessment and permitted materials

Fulfilment of practical assignments and reading literature

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Basic knowledge in R (e.g. successful participation in an introductory R course) or after consultation

Examination topics

Continuous evaluation during the course based on assignments and active participation.

Reading list

Barnosky et al, 2017. Merging paleobiology with conservation biology to guide the future of terrestrial ecosystems. Science 355: 6325.
Kidwell, 2015. Biology in the Anthropocene: Challenges and insights from young fossil records. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112 (6): 4922-4929

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 11.05.2020 16:49